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When cashless economy means a bigger generational and income divide





Desmond White leads a very modern life, riding his bike around inner-city Newcastle, where he lives on his own in a fifth-storey apartment overlooking the wharf.

But the 93-year-old was unimpressed when he recently became the owner of an iPhone. "I had one of the old traditional phones, which was misbehaving. All callers — and I've got a lot of callers — would say 'what's up with your phone, what's wrong with your phone?'" he said.

Optus offered Mr White a new phone and he agreed, but he was surprised to find it was an iPhone that arrived in the mail.

"I was expecting one like the old-fashioned stuff," he said.

Suddenly, Mr White, who once presided over a successful tyre business, found himself unable to perform the previously simple task of making a phone call.

"Everybody promised — I've got grandkids and whatnot — to show me what to do with it," he said. With most of his family outside of the Newcastle area, Mr White turned to a computer club for older Novocastrians.

"I somehow managed to be able to make a call, and of course receive one … but it would be nice if I could do ever so much more, because I know it has so much to offer," Mr White said.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

The cashless society from an ethical point of view









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